The current state of U.S.-China relations

Written on December 27, 2013 by Waya Quiviger in News


As 2013 draws to a close, where does the complex and consequential relationship between the United States and China stand? Relations between the two nations are enormously broad now, with hundreds of policy issues from agriculture to zoology joining American and Chinese interests. Even when we look to some of the key issues, no convincing pattern emerges.

On the security front, 2013 was decidedly mixed. Washington and Beijing worked side by side when it came to the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, and China supported the breakthrough six-month interim deal with Tehran. On North Korea, there was less daylight between the U.S. and China than in years past, and in September, China announced a prohibition on exporting to its neighbor a long list of equipment and chemicals that could be used in weapons.

Workaday Sino-American cooperation on piracy and counternarcotics continued apace, and for the first time, China agreed to join next year’s U.S.-hosted RIMPAC, the largest annual international marine exercise, signaling a new willingness to engage with other militaries on terms it does not fully control.

But China’s unexpected declaration in November of an air defense identification zone did not go over well in Washington. To be sure, such zones are not inherently destabilizing. But the fact that China’s overlaps with Japan’s and includes the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, and that China did not consult with its neighbors or the United States before its announcement, meant that the new policy exacerbated tensions in the East China Sea. “No surprises” is a central tenet of the “new model” for major power relations the Obama and Xi administrations pledged to build at the Sunnylands summit this summer, and China did not score well on this early test. Read more…

Nina Hachigian is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the editor of “Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten Conversations.”

As published in the LA Times on Dec. 27, 2013  http://www.latimes.com


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